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Apple, Major League Baseball Strike Landmark Streaming Rights Deal

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Apple has snared rights to a Friday-night package of Major League Baseball games, extending Silicon Valley’s reach into the world of sports.

The consumer-electronics manufacturer no doubt hopes an attractive passel of sports rights will bring new viewership to its Apple TV Plus streaming service, which vies for consumer attention and subscription dollars with Disney’s Disney Plus and Netflix, among others, and Apple’s deal only adds to pressures on leagues and media companies to include streaming rights in sports deals. Indeed, ESPN has over the past few years kept streaming rights paramount in its deal making, and the company’s Hulu already shows some live NHL games as part of a deal between the league and sister outlet ESPN. WarnerMedia has deals in place that will let it stream NHL games and, next year, men’s and women’s matches from the U.S. Soccer Federation. Amazon last year won new solo rights to stream the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” and is gearing up for its new tenure.

The MLB games became available after ESPN trimmed its baseball-rights package in a new seven-year agreement with MLB, cutting loose weekday games in favor of a more intense focus on Sunday telecasts, the league’s Home Run Derby and some post-season wild card games.

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